Northwest Missouri State knocked ACU out of the playoffs for the second time in a 35-10 loss Saturday, after the Wildcats failed to take advantage of four forced Bearcat turnovers.
“I am disappointed in our team’s performance today,” said Head Coach Chris Thomsen. “Give a lot of credit to Northwest. They did a great job in all three phases of the game.”
The Bearcats’ defense was too much for ACU to handle as they pressured Gale, sacking him six times. ACU’s defense was able to force four turnovers, but the Wildcats could not score off the takeaways.
The Bearcats were also able to run the ball effectively — ACU gave up 168 yards rushing, the highest total all season.
When asked how the Bearcats were so successful, Kevin Washington said, “I would like to answer that, but if we would have had an answer, we would have been able to stop them earlier in the game.”
The first half was a series of missed opportunities for the Wildcats. After the Bearcats took the opening drive for a touchdown, ACU answered by moving the ball to the Bearcats 12-yard line but were stopped short of the first down and forced to kick a field goal. Josh Wise intercepted Blake Bolles on the ensuing drive, and ACU was able to drive to the Bearcats 1-yard line before Mitchell Gale fumbled.
After an exchange of punts, Bolles froze the defense with a fake hand-off to LaRon Council and scored on a 71-yard run.
ACU had another interception late in the half and was able to drive into Northwest territory, but it ended in a failed 39-yard field goal attempt, and the Bearcats took a 14-3 lead into halftime
The Wildcats started the second half poorly. Reggie Brown fumbled on the opening drive, giving the Bearcats a very short field. LaRon Council scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, making the score 21-3. The third quarter was sloppy as both teams exchanged punts and fumbles on the next four possessions. After a Gale fumble, the Bearcats took a commanding 25-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats struggled early in the fourth quarter, missing a long field goal. The Bearcats added a final touchdown on a 23-yard pass. The Bearcats led 35-3 until late in the game, when Daryl Richardson scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, but NWMSU ran out the clock to win the game.